University Leadership

The Armauer Hansen 2023 Anniversary

2023 marks 150 years since the discovery of the leprosy bacillus. This landmark in the history of global health will be celebrated throughout the year, and on February 28 - the date of the first observation of the leprosy bacillus – we invite you to a commemoration in the University Aula.

Bilde av Armauer Hansen mens han arbeider

Main content

Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen (1841-1912) is «without comparison the most famous Norwegian physician ever» (Norwegian biographical lexicon). His greatest achievement was the discovery of the leprosy bacillus, M.leprae, first observed on February 28, 1873.

The discovery represented a medical paradigm shift in that it was the first time a pathogen was identified as the cause for a chronic disease. It also represented an epidemiological breakthrough with consequences for preventive medicine and health legislation globally – eventually paving the way for effective treatment.

Still relevant

In many countries leprosy has been renamed "Hansen's disease", in honour of the discoverer and to help combat stigma.

Many of the issues Hansen discussed are still relevant, such as the relationship between individual freedom and the collective need for protection against contagious disease.

The University of Bergen hereby invites you to the official commemoration of the anniversary.


11:00-12:30: Program with speeches about the discovery, its significance and consequences, music, and greetings.

The program includes speeches and greetings by:

  • Rector Margareth Hagen 
  • WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus
  • Mayor of Bergen, Linn Kristin Engø
  • WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination Yohei Sasakawa
  • Armauer Hansen's grandson Abbi Patrix
  • Professor emeritus Lorentz Irgens
  • Representative of IDEA Ghana Kofi Nyarko
  • Representative of Morhan Brazil Paula Soares Brabda
  • Head of the Rafto foundation Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt

The program is hosted by the dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Per Bakke.

12:30: Placing of wreath at Armauer Hansen's bust and grave in the Botanical Garden. 

12:45: Reception/lunch for invited guests, followed by a tour of the Armauer Hansen Commemorative room. 

The University will host an anniversary webcast for international audiences, at 13.00. (Link will come)